The next phase of the CR 900 E. project has cleared another hurdle. Last week, the county conducted a public hearing on the environmental report to allow people along the roadway to have a say in what the final project will look like.
In all, about 20 people showed up for the meeting at the Simon J. Graber Complex. They asked a few questions and made no additional comments on the project.
“It seemed like everyone was pretty pleased with what is planned out there,” said Nicholas Will with the Lochmueller Group.
“I think it went really well,” added Daviess County Highway Supervisor Phil Cornelius.
The project, which will extend about 3.5 miles from just south of CR 450 S. to CR 100 N., will cover phases IV and V of the CR 900 E. total project. The estimated price tag on the latest section is $16.8 million.
For the most part, the new roadway will mirror what people have seen in the first three phases of the project. The plan is to widen the roadway and the shoulders to include concrete driving lanes for cars and trucks and separate lanes of pavement to handle non-motorized traffic like buggies. Officials say the idea is to separate cars and trucks running on the busy roadway through the Amish country from the bicycles and horse and buggies.
“When we first brought this idea out, there were a lot of questions and a fair share of skeptics,” said Cornelius. “Now that they have seen how it works there is a lot more community support. They know how nice it is and how well it functions. I think that was one reason for the lower turn out.”
“I think the county has built a lot of trust in the community with those other projects,” added President of the Daviess County Commissioners Nathan Gabhart.
County officials and road designers also did some work ahead of time to shift the road in places.
“I think a lot of the issues were worked out ahead of time,” said Gabhart.
“I think we did a good job talking to the people ahead of time,” added Cornelius. “We adjusted the road a little so that it wouldn’t affect the Wagler Cemetery just north of CR 300 N. on the west side.”
That area had some other adjustments as well.
“There are a couple of houses there and a turkey barn, and we managed to adjust the route that should not impact any of them,” said Will.
One thing that will be a little different on this latest project is the replacement of an existing concrete bridge over Flat Creek. That will involve widening the bridge and using a three-sided concrete arch.
“It will allow the buggy lane to continue across the bridge,” said Will. “We will also keep the buggy lane in pavement to help with the ongoing maintenance.”
Officials say that for the most part it appears the community is on board with the project.
“I would call the reaction pretty positive,” said Will. “We had some individuals there concerned about specifically what the road would do to their property. No one spoke in the public comment portion and people seemed to be happy with it.”
The public comment phase of the project will remain open through Nov. 20. People wanting to look at detailed plans on the project can view them at the Daviess County Highway Department. People wanting to make additional comments can send them to the Lochmueller Group, 6200 Vogel Road, Evansville, IN. 47715 or they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those responses will be part of the final environmental document. Once that is done and the county and engineers address any required adjustments the project is expected to be cleared for the purchase of right of way. The land purchasing is expected to take most of 2020. The movement of utility lines will begin during that time, followed by road construction in the spring of 2021. The project is expected to take two years to complete.
“I feel pretty good at this point,” said Cornelius. “It is a relief to be getting ready to move into the final stage of this and know that we have the support of the people along the road.”